I saw the whole thing. My mother made me tell, even though I promised Roberta I wouldn’t. Her mother called my mother; she was crying an all and my mother got me by the arm an shook me an yelled, “Carol Parry, you tell me right this minute where those dogs are that bit Roberta!” My stupid little brother, Brian, starts laughing; he thought I was gonna get it, so I pinched him before I told my Mom how me and Roberta and Barbara Walsh (who really isn’t my friend) rode our bikes to this big house in a park with a wooden fence that’s taller than my head. As soon as Roberta climbed over the fence these huge police dogs came running out and started biting her. Then an old lady (who I think was a witch) came out after them screaming. We couldn’t hear what she was yelling on accounta the dogs were barking so loud.
The whole time Roberta kept saying, “Nice doggies, nice doggies.” It’s a good thing she could climb or the dogs woulda eaten her! Then my mother called Mrs. Wayne back who had already called Mrs. Walsh; but Barbara Walsh said she couldn’t remember how we got there, (which is probably a lie).
My mom said, “Barbara Walsh is a troublemaker and a bad influence! Roberta should know better! She’s usually a little fraidy-cat. Whatever made her climb over a fence into someone’s property…and on her 10th birthday too, with her grandmother coming all the way out on the train from New York City and everything!”
Then my mother said it would be nice if I called Roberta so I did. I asked her, “How did your parents find out?”
She said, “My folks had a special birthday dinner all ready with a cake. Nana bought me this really neat set of tiny animals with fur and everything. I guess Mom noticed I didn’t look happy. She followed me into my room and asked me if anything was wrong and I started crying.”
“Did she smack you when she found out?” I asked her.
“No,” Roberta answered; “I wasn’t gonna show her the bite marks but she sort of got it out of me… Carol, you bum, you told me that place was a park where we could pick flowers for our mothers. You an Barbara made me climb over that fence first!”
“It’s your own fault, you stupid jerk,” I said; “It’s January! There aren’t any flowers to pick in January!” (This was as good a way to get out of it as I could think of.) Roberta’s always getting pushed around because she can’t fight back. She’s the only kid in our whole neighborhood who has no brothers or sisters. My parents say it’s because her parents are Presbyterians.
Roberta said when her mom saw the bites on her elbow and her bottom her mom got almost hysterical and called the doctor. Then Roberta’s dad got on the phone and said, “Will you have to cut out the skin around the bites?” When Roberta heard that she started bawling so hard she couldn’t hear the rest. As soon as she stopped crying, her dad said the doctor told him she’d have to have the bites cor…cor…derized, which means burning her skin with a chemical. Roberta probably fainted right then, the way she did when we had to stand in line for polio shots at school.
Since I was the only one who knew how to find the park I had to go in the car with Mr. Wayne and my dad and show them the way. I said it wasn’t fair! Mr. Wayne said they had to find the dogs to see if they have rabies. Later, Roberta said she was afraid the dogs would be killed, but I told her, “Look, they won’t kill them unless they have rabies and then they’ll die anyway. My mother said if you catch rabies, first you start foaming at the mouth, then you go nuts and run around biting people and then you expire – a painful death. If I didn’t show our parents where the dogs live they would make you get rabies shots; you have to get them in the stomach and they really hurt, too, so you should be grateful.”
Anyway, I showed Roberta’s and my dad the way to the park where the dogs live with the witch. You can tell it’s a park because it isn’t in a development like ours where all the houses are the same. Our whole neighborhood was built at once in 1947, when most of us kids were born and there’s only little trees and the houses all look alike and are right next to each other. Mom says Long Island used to be made of farms. There was nothing here at all before we came. I think the developers just left this one big farmhouse and all those huge trees and land and surrounded it with that tall fence. Yeah, it’s gotta be a park. No regular human would live there.
So we got to the house with the big dogs and I hid in the car seat and said I wasn’t getting out. I think my father and Mr. Wayne were scared when they heard the dogs growling behind the gate because they didn’t get out either; they just wrote down the address. Then we left. Roberta said when her dad got home he called the police. Mr. Wayne went back to the park in a police car and the police took him in to talk to the old lady, (who was not a real witch, after all, or they would’a never got away).
On Monday just about everyone in Miss Kugler’s class had heard about Roberta getting bit by ferocious dogs (I’m not sure how they found out. I never told them!). At recess, all the kids wanted to see the bites, so Roberta pushed up her sleeve in the coat room; she only showed the bites on her elbow. I said, “So when will you know if you have rabies?”
She turned all white like she was gonna’ throw up or something and said, “When the police took my dad to the house, the old lady, who, by the way, Carol, wasn’t a witch and was screaming at the dogs, not me, was really sorry about me getting bit. The dogs are show dogs and go to the vet all the time and get shots and things so they just have to stay locked up in the house for two weeks. If they don’t get sick by then, I’m ok. Ha Ha”!
All the kids looked disappointed and put on their coats and went outside to the playground. Barbara Walsh came over and started talking with Roberta so I stuck my tongue out at them and ran away. If Roberta wants to play with her she can, but I’m not. Barbara Walsh is a bad influence.
She has been published in The Ravens Perch online magazine twice, and Intrinsick online magazine and will be published in SLAB magazine and Blueline Literary Journal.